A nurse holds their hands in a heart shape around their pocket, where a small figure of a lupus patient is tucked in as if in a bed.

What A Difference A Good Nurse Can Make

Nurses... They are truly the backbone of any hospital or medical practice. They spend the most time with the patient and know way more about us than any doctor ever could. But they are often more judgmental and jaded due to what they see on a daily basis. They sometimes see patients every day abusing the system or abusing narcotics. So, it can be hard not to assume that everyone is behaving that way.

I know from personal experience, but I also know how it feels to be wrongly judged when you just want help and not narcotics. I know how it feels to be looked at like a drug seeker when all you are seeking is help. So it is truly refreshing when you get good nurses who are willing to help who are not jaded by the system, or judgmental.

Thinking back to my experiences

I can’t even count the number of times I have been treated or looked at like I am drug-seeking.

Having worked at the bedside for over 5 years, and as a nurse for almost 10, I know how easy it can be to become jaded by the system. I know how easy it is to assume the worst in people. Based solely on what you see on medication or problem list found in their electronic health record. But uniquely I also know how it feels to be on the other side of that. Sadly, I can’t even count the number of times I have been treated or looked at like I am drug seeking when all I am really seeking is care.

In the past, during ONE visit I was told by THREE providers, each before they introduced themselves, that I would not be getting narcotics for my migraine. When I had never asked for them, nor did I want them. They jumped to this conclusion because of what they saw on my chart and they judged this book by its cover. But thankfully I can say this past weekend when I was in the ER twice in 12 hours (that’s a story for another day) and admitted all my providers were amazing – enough so that I wanted to share how much of a difference good nurses can make.

Always scared to ask for pain medicine

Sadly, due to how I’ve been treated in the past I am always scared to ask for anything for pain.

Starting with the physicians and nurses in the ER and continuing on with the hospitalist and floor nurses, no one ever questioned me on why I was there or mentioned my home meds or my chronic pain. But sadly, due to how I’ve been treated in the past I am always scared to ask for anything for pain when I am in for a migraine. Silly as it sounds, I am terrified of how they will react or how they will treat me and how I will be judged. I shouldn’t care. But I do. I honestly think I have a little PTSD from how I have been treated in the past. Thankfully, the nurses I had this weekend were a GODSEND.

The nurses were so great. I reached my breaking point. I was in tears from the pain in my back after FOUR attempts at a spinal tap before I finally asked for pain medication. They never judged me. In fact, it was quite the opposite. They were upset with me for letting it get to that point before asking. After that, they wrote when I could have my next dose and I never had to ask for it again. They made it their job to make sure that my all-over pain was controlled, not just my migraine.

Usually, when I'm in with a migraine they refuse to give me anything for my chronic pain issues because they are treating the migraine. Even though the medication they are giving me for the migraine does absolutely nothing for the chronic pain. Not because it doesn’t help. But because it’s specialized for headaches.

The difference a good nurse makes

I think the difference was that I was on a floor where they aren’t afraid of pain medication. They understand the difference between abuse and therapeutic intervention for the patient, due to the fact that they have a lot of cancer patients. It always amazes me that some providers, nurses included, are terrified to give patients pain medications even if they take it at home. I understand that they are worried about the side effects of the pain medications along with what they are giving in the hospital. But refusing to treat chronic pain is NOT the answer.

Having a good bedside nurse can truly mean the difference between a good or a bad hospital stay. If you have a bad doctor, yeah, it’s not great. But you see them once a day for maybe 5 minutes. If you have a bad nurse, you have to deal with her multiple times an hour, sometimes for multiple days in a row. Sadly, due to the current state of our country, nurses often end up jaded and because of that, they find it easy to lump all those who take medication to treat their chronic pain. I’m not stating that it’s right I’m just saying it happens. But when you have a good one who treats you right and helps you manage your pain it makes all the difference in the world.

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